Hard Tail (HT) and Full-Suspension (FS)
Copyright (C) and Trademark (TM) RideFATbikes.ca 2016-18
The following STACK and REACH research article, including our custom sizing Charts, was reviewed by FAT-BIKE.com, in their FAT CAMP Tech Talk Show (on pod cast #19, aired January 7th 2017).
You can listen to that pod cast, while reading this article, by clicking << Here >>. The FAT-BIKE.com review of our website starts at 24min51sec and continues for about 8 minutes.
** SOME DESIGNS ARE CLEARLY BETTER THAN OTHERS **
Let'S BEGIN by stating RIDEFATBIKES.ca created this web page to share information freely with the WORLD-WIDE Fat Bike community, to help everyone get fitted to the PROPER Fat Bike.
" HAVING TESTED OVER 54 fat bike designs by SPRING 2018, INCLUSIVE OF many different manufacturers, COMPONENT SETUPS, AND many different suspension configurations, there are very clear choices that offer exceedingly good geometry, handling, and values for the money. "
We have taken this information, learned from over FOUR years of INDUSTRY testing and REVIEWING fat bikes (all 4 seasons of the year), and turned OUR BUSINESS into a full custom build service.
"Our driving force is still to advocate and help people find the best fitting bikes and gear, so they have the best experience with the sport of Fat Biking, and it becomes a new pass-time for everyone ALL 4 seasons of the year."
When I started looking for my first HT (hard tail) Fat Bike several years ago, I was chasing after all sorts of random marketing information online, crunching those numbers, including luring advertisements and the marketing of different frame colours, seeking the "right fit" and the "right bike".
Over the years, I found out that STACK and REACH measurements are by far, the two most critical things to consider in finding the right Fat Bike for any given rider.
NOTE : There are many other important secondary factors too, like BB (Bottom Bracket) drop, HT (Head Tube) angle, ST (Seat Tube) angle, and definitely C/S (chainstay) length.
Chasing colours, decals and "deals" will amount to you never fully realizing the potential enjoyment and performance in the sport, if you opt to buy the wrong fitting bike, because some advertisement told you to buy brand "xyz", or you liked the colour of a certain Fat Bike, or just because a company makes well-known road bikes, that does not mean they spent the time, effort and engineering on designing a GREAT Fat Bike.
As you journey through this process yourself, hopefully you will notice that the companies that dedicated their entire business (or a large part of it) to a history of creating FAT BIKES ONLY, will lead you closer to the best fitting bikes.
I realize there will be sponsored riders reading this article, and also individuals that are extremely "brand-loyal" to their CX/Gravel and road bikes. Staying loyal to those brands may be admiral, but it may not get you fitted into the best performing, fastest and most comfortable FAT BIKE. While your opinions may be "biased" towards a brand because of loyalty or sponsorship commitments (and we understand that), our research has brought us to the conclusion that some FAT BIKES are just flat-out designed, built and configured better than others.
Things to consider :
OK, so what the heck is STACK and REACH..?
With Stack and Reach, you have no need for :
STACK and REACH will replace all those "traditional" systems of categorizing frames, and it will standardize the cycling industry, not just for Fat Bikes, but for all bikes. (Currently, I think it's most widely depended on, for Time Trial and Triathlon bikes, but it applies to Fat Bikes too!)
It is best to start out this process by getting the data on two sources of information :
Most cycling and training centers can perform this fitment test for you. There are even some free "do-it-yourself" Fitment guides online. The idea is to have a really good understanding of your body dimensions. These include (but not limited to) : Inseam, Forearm, Thigh, Lower Leg, Trunk, Sternal Notch, Total Height, and riding style (AM, XC or Adventure/Excursion).
Once you have all these frame and body measurements, they will accurately record your personal data on how your body would best fit on any type of bike.
For each type of bike, Stack and Reach numbers are combined with other critical frame geometry specifications, to arrive at the optimal frame configuration, for your cycling terrain and intended usage.
Why is it helpful to know your existing bike's stack and reach numbers? Because with this information, you can envision how a new bike frame is going to "fit" in relation to what you already have... and you can "fit" this bike into your riding style... be it more downhill, XC, snow-based trekking, or some other race geometry. Some need a longer reach to the bars to be able to move their center of gravity around on the bike... while others may want a taller stack, so the front end is higher up than their previous ride.... or, some racers may want the opposite, to lower the front end and get into more of an aero tuck position for XC racing. Adjusting body position, also adjusts the power transfer from many different leg muscles. Whatever the situation may be... knowing where you are NOW with your current bike's Stack and Reach, is a great starting point, on your journey to where you need to go, to get into an even better Fat Bike geometry.
Please don't underestimate the importance of these stats, as they can significantly affect (or alter) your riding experience. All Fat Bikes are not created the same. Some are clearly better designs than others.
"The evolution of mountain bikes has made the old system of top tube and seat tube based sizing irrelevant. The wide range in seat tube angles and bottom bracket heights can create a situation where one bike could feel longer or taller than another frame with the same measurements. Once a rider is in a standing position, the fit and feel of their bike’s cockpit is determined exclusively by the handlebar and pedals. Finding the specific geometric relationship between those two points is the only way to accurately compare the fit and feel of different bicycle frames."
"The horizontal distance from the bottom bracket center to the top of the headtube centerline is referred to as REACH. The vertical distance between these two points is known as STACK. By comparing the reach and stack on different frame models, the rider is able to identify exactly how their bike will fit and feel on the trail. This system eliminates any uncertainty created by the seat tube angle, and forever drops the need for “actual” and “effective” top tube measurements. The reach and stack of a frame is the most important sizing information for a freeride or downhill rider but it is extremely valuable for trail riders, (Fat Bikers) and XC racers as well." (quote taken from Dec 18. 2008 article in Pinkbike).
1. Numb Fingers
2. Lower Back pain
3. Knee pain
4. Saddle soreness
5. Overall lack of comfort, including shoulder or neck pain that accumulates over time
6. Foot or Toe pain on long rides, or while sprinting or climbing
7. Lack of Power Transfer
These charts are updated regularly and contain the STACK and REACH data for HARDTAIL and FULL SUSPENSION Fat bike frames available in North America, who publish their frame geometry "Stack and Reach" stats.
If we have missed any vendors in the $2000+ USD marketplace with Fat Bikes under 32 lbs, please let us know, and we will try our best to include those frames in these charts.
This FSFB chart is due for a major revamp as some frames did not pass EFBE or SGS Industry certification testing, and will be removed shortly. Plus at least one overseas manufacturer made engineering mistakes to their front and rear end suspension and tire clearances and basically crippled the release of their FSFB since Interbike).
Note: 7 FAT BIKE frames have adjustable chainstay length settings.
These charts were created to fully disclose an unbiased look at all the Fat Bike frames currently offered in North America. We know everyone arrives here already biased from previous marketing ties, or experiences with their previous road or mtb bike Brands. That's fine. We'd ask that you look at this data with an open mind and really consider the possibilities before you make your next purchase in the sport of Fat Biking.
The 2017 Model Launch has seen some significant changes happening in the industry. 1) Many companies with unpopular designs from last year dropped out of the market, like Scott. 2) Even more companies got their engineers together and completely redesigned their frames.
Fat Bike companies wanting to stay on the cutting edge of change have re-positioned their "Adventure/Snow" bikes in either the "AM" (All-mountain) or "XC" (cross-country) categories. Trends in these two regions show shorter chainstays overall. Smaller Q factors (Like OTSO). Taller stack and shorter reach for "AM" designs (Fatback Skookum carbon and RM Blizzard alloy), and shorter stack and longer reach for "XC" designs.
One company that always seems to stay ahead of the trending curves and tech changes is Fatback, and they have 3 well-placed models across the geometry sizing spectrum. The Skookum/FLT in "AM", the Corvus/FLT in "Adventure/Snow" and the Rhino/FLT in "XC". All have been fine-tuned with the latest frame geometry updates and can still spec 4.8in tires, using 100mm, or many 27.5+ and 29+ wheelset combinations. They are well placed across the sizing charts and all between 25-30 lbs). This company is passionate about fat bikes and been designing and building JUST fat bikes for about 10 years now.
For instance, the Iditarod Fat Bike Race Across Alaska, has seen Fatback win over a dozen times, in the harshest climates. They even beat the sled dog teams and broke world records !! (click here for more info)